Our final day exploring Israel took us back in time 2,200 years to the era of the Maccabees. We went on an archeological dig at the Sidonian Caves in Tel Maresha.
Remember, there are more than 35,000 documented archeological sites in this ancient country, so we were sure to find something! Our guide first took us inside one of the caves. She gave us tools and instructions and we started digging.
Sara was the first to find something - pieces of pottery. I found pottery shards, bones and a sea shell. Everybody had success.
We were not allowed to keep what we found - everything is divided into the “find” buckets and the “dirt” buckets. Experts will study the fragments to learn about the people who lived here more than two thousand years ago.
After our dig, we had an opportunity to “cave crawl!” I wasn’t to sure about this, since we were told some passages were so low and tight we’d have to scoot on our backs to get through! Not being one to turn down a challenge, I pushed forward - moving a little slower than the rest, but made it through without a scratch. Crossing that one off the list!
Our final stop of the day, and the trip, was perfect in a symbolic way - a visit to the Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. One of only six schools of its kind in the state, it offers integrated classes for Arab and Jewish students on the Israeli side of the Green Line, teaching both cultures, histories and languages. Noa Yammer, International Engagement and Communications Director at the Jerusalem school gave us the tour.
As our magical trip came to an end, I have many take-aways:
- I have reconnected with my faith and have a better understanding of my Jewish heritage and of Jewish history.
-The Israeli people are kind, strong and resourceful; makes me proud to be a “Member of the Tribe.”
-Never - let me repeat - never did I feel unsafe in this country.
-I have made new friends. I’ve learned a little bit about everyone on this trip. It is a special bond, a commonality that lessons the degrees of separation.
As I return to Chicago, I hope to bring back with me that feeling of peace, love and mitzvot that resonates when I visit this most special place. Our guide Zvi said it best. “Christians come to Israel to visit the Holy Land. Jews come to visit the Homeland.”